I prefer to make my trifle with bought sponge fingers so it is really a cross between a zuppa inglese and a traditional trifle. The trifle can be topped with a featherlight lemon syllabub instead of plain whipped cream, which puts a different complexion on it entirely.
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Photo: Eddie Jim
- 1 x 1 1/2 or 2-litre glass trifle bowl
- 8 sponge finger biscuits (savoiardi)
- 2 tbsp sweet white wine OR 1 tbsp peach liqueur
- 8 ripe peaches, yellow or white, preferably freestone
- 6 peach leaves*
- crushed kernels from the peaches *
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup cream
- 60g castor sugar
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 8 egg yolks
- 1 cup cream
Run a knife around the natural curve of each peach and place it in a stainless steel bowl. Pour over boiling water. Using a slotted spoon, remove one peach at a time and peel. Place peeled peach on a plate until all are done.
Break the sponge fingers into the glass bowl. Sprinkle with the wine or liqueur. Holding each peach over the glass bowl so that all the juices are captured, slice the flesh of the peach into the bowl. Cover with plastic film while you make the custard.
Give the peach stones a sharp thump with a meat mallet or rolling pin and extract the kernels. Put these with the washed peach leaves into a saucepan with the milk and cream. Very gently heat to scalding point and then draw pan off the heat to infuse the flavors for 15 minutes. Whisk sugar, flour and yolks together until creamy. Strain the scalded milk mixture over the top of the sugar mixture and return to the washed-out pan to cook, stirring constantly until custard thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon.*
Once thickened, pour the custard over the peaches immediately. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate for several hours or better still, overnight.
Lightly whip the cream, then cover the custard with the cream.
Note 1. The peach leaf and kernel (from an Italian recipe) sound romantic but I found that even after the 15 minutes' steeping I could only detect a faintly almond flavor. If you wanted to boost the flavor, a few drops of Amaretto di Saronno liqueur will do the trick.
Note 2. The very small amount of flour in this custard makes it more stable and a little thicker than a classic stirred custard but it still should not boil.